I’ve done my fair share of watching MMA fights, growing fond of certain fighters, even feeling like I was the one who praised a specific fighter the most. Seeing your favorite fighter win, favorite hockey player score or whichever sport excites you, is difficult sometimes to contain your joy and appraisal. You feel as if you’ve established a type relationship with them, and in a way, sharing the experience. But when I was in the crowd of the “Monster Brawl” fight card that, which featured three fighters training out of my gym, my experience was more exhilarating than I’d ever anticipated.
Friday November 2nd of last year was when this glorious night unraveled, and I had been anticipating this ever sense I purchased the tickets weeks beforehand. Standing within the train of people, in a line stretching around the building, all the hype and Denver atmosphere was hindering me from keeping still with. While waiting anxiously for the doors to open for the Fight to Win “Monster Brawl” event, I was taking note of all the familiar and foreign MMA gyms other people were representing with team shirts put together by the different gyms. I felt a little out of place with my team due to the fact that I wasn’t wearing any Fusboxe apparel like they were. And out of our three fighters that competing that night, Cody Moore’s bout was the most memorable performance.
It was a back forth battle between the two for the entire three rounds, strikes landing on both fighters, blood being drawn and welts accumulating. My teammate was the better wrestler, taking the opponent down at will and stuffing any takedowns thrown at him in return. Cody’s massive beard seemed to provide some cushion to the blows that landed on him, but he got rocked a couple times, appearing to recuperate quickly. It was close, but Cody’s reservoir of unique and intricate skills deemed himself worthy of victory. He caused more damage and imposed his will on his adversary, also ended the fight with a spectacular throw landing him in a dominant position.
Cody was one of my closest friend and teammates at Fusboxe MMA, and when I had the privilege of watching him come out victorious through the battle he unanimously one, my voice was destroyed the next day from the constant cheering and yelling throughout the fight. A sense of euphoria even lingered in my system for hours afterwards, lasting through the night. I trained hard with Cody, for Cody. I didn’t just watch his growth in the sport, I grew alongside with him. I’ve experienced the satisfaction of victory with him, and more importantly I’ve tasted defeat. We’ve pushed each other to our limits, pushed each other through one more round, one more minute, one more takedown or one more sprawl. I’ve dedicated time working with all the members of my Fusboxe team, but Cody and I had expanded upon the gym. We had established a closer bond through other shared interests, like snowboarding and rock climbing. So seeing him getting his hand raised dug deep into all of my team’s emotions, but especially mine.
Mixed Martial Arts is a sport in which family style bonds and friendships are formed.
This scenario goes to prove that like any other rhetorical situation, knowing your audience is key and one of the most important concepts to grasp in becoming a successful rhetor. Knowing your audience gives you more knowledge as to how you should shape your message, how to bend it, articulate it, and mold it to produce your desired response. Studying fighters prior to the bout or match gives insight on how you may react to something, allowing for quicker adaptations to be made, another important skill and concept of rhetoric. Knowing your audience is essential, being able to draw upon their history, analyze them critically, and configure up the right approach is what will give you the edge.
Rhetoric is everywhere. Whenever there is any kind of interaction between two people, through verbal or unspoken means, a rhetorical situation is created. There is always a speaker, although not a single word needs to be spilled in order to “speak”. There is always a message that is being projected, yet not always legible or able to hear. An existing audience to receive the massage is also required, along with other aspects like credibility establishment, response, justifying counter arguments, and knowing who your audience is.
When stepping into the cage, every rhetorical aspect applies with absolute certainty. The speaker would be you, stepping into the cage, with heightened senses you have the intent of delivering not just any message, but a powerful message. The desired message being conveyed is that you can utilize the skillsets you’ve acquired more effectively than he can use his, resulting in prevailing over your opponent, establishing further credibility. And who might your audience be? The adversary standing before you, with his own predisposed responses for your intended message. You will want to be able to anticipate your opponent’s objections to your message, for example, if you fake a takedown, you can anticipate a takedown defense maneuver from the opponent which potentially leaves them open for strikes.
Contrary to popular belief, international statistics show that athletes competing in MMA are less likely to attain serious injuries than in a range of other contact sports, such as ice hockey, boxing and American football, as well as in other professional sports in general. Why is this? Well most injuries occur during a bout, and an MMA athlete on the professional level typically trains around 12-14 sessions per week for an upcoming fight, but with only approximately 1-3 bouts per year. Compare this with ice hockey or football where most teams have one or more games per week spanning over more than half of the year.
But even if you aren’t looking to become the next champion in an organization like the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships), or compete in anyway, MMA is not just for elite athletes and can just be recreational. The athletes seen on television are only a small percentage of all the people that practice MMA around the world. The sport has grown sense the first UFC was held back in November of 1993, later named UFC 1: The Beginning, and has rapidly spread through the past decade. Initially, those competing in MMA came from other
disciplines of martial arts and used the techniques they were comfortable with when competing against someone who might come from a different discipline. But as MMA grew and as the athletes became more complete, so did the movement of the sport.
There is no doubt that brain trauma and injury can accumulate over the years of fighting professionally, but when getting started in the sport nothing is full contact until deemed ready. The structure of the MMA gym I trained out of for four years was such that I required a certain amount of time working one on one with an instructor, establishing my basic techniques before I was allowed to go “live”, or spar. All the sparing I did at first was light, until I was comfortable transitioning to more heavy sparing sessions. No matter what I was doing though, I would be faced against opponents who were better than me, in a sense that they knew how and more importantly how not to injure me. As a general rule, the younger and the less mature the practitioner, the less full-contact is allowed, and most training facilities that are professionally run are organized in this manner.
One of the most important reasons however, for the lack of injury, is that an MMA athlete is trained to be offensive as well as defensive. Compare this to being unfairly tackled when trying to score in soccer game or accidentally falling off a horse when jumping a fixed obstacle during an equestrian race. One reason that injuries are relatively low in MMA stems from this, that MMA is a sport where you are prepared and trained for impact, not where your key task is something else and you might get injured in the process.
Training in a mixed martial arts gym within a professional environment, is a relatively safe sport, compared to a majority of popular sports. More injuries occur in sports like basketball, baseball, hockey and football than MMA. Through all the various sports I was previously involved in, I enquired more injuries in them compared to the zero amount of injuries I’ve had in MMA. It seemed like every football practice or game I had in high school there would be an injury timeout or somebody would get hurt, compared to the rare occasions somebody would legitimately get hurt or injured at the gym I use to train at. With the proper equipment and coaching, injuries happen in small very numbers so there is no need to be frightened, don’t be afraid to give it a try.
If you’re like me, and a majority of the population, running is not an enjoyable experience. Cardio could be argued to be an important aspect in getting fit and in better shape, but why does this always have to be something you dread and not look forward to one bit? Sports usually make working out fun, but what sports don’t require much running at all you may ask? MMA could be your answer! When going multiple rounds training stand up or the ground game, your cardiovascular system is being worked tremendously. Oh and did I mention, there is no running involved. Another awesome thing about MMA is the training is very low impact on joints that could hinder running or working out.
If the movie Never Back Down has had some influence on trying MMA or has you interested in it, this movie doesn’t do a bad job depicting the sport. The fighting scenes are relatively realistic, contrary to nearly any fight scene in movies. The tournament at the end of the movie was exactly how the UFC use to be when it first was getting organized. It would not be uncommon for the fighters to be very injured at the end of the night, because even they won a fight, they would fight again later with the damages that were done in the prior bouts.
If you live in Durango, good news for you! There is a mixed martial arts gym right off Camino del Rio called Durango Martial Arts. It’s a confusing name, I know, but this place seems legit. I have not personally checked this facility out yet, but if anybody has, please leave me a comment about your experience there. I do plan on involving myself back into the sport once I obtain my gear, and the money, and and this is the first place I am going to go to. Once I visit this gym I’ll update this post and give feedback as soon as possible.